Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Glory of the Lord

According to my concordance (an “old fashioned” reference book that locates each word in the Scriptures) the word “glory” appears 379 times in the entire Old and New Testaments. I decided to look up the word in my dictionary because I realized “glory” is one of the words we use quite often, but we never really define it. It reminds me of a story I heard the other day. During a conversation between a youth worker and a child, the child said, “Fellowship is that religious word that means have fun.” What does glory mean?

Some of the words associated with glory are:
fame, admiration, honor, praise, majesty, splendor, beauty

Some “dated” expressions associated with glory are:
Expressing surprise, shock, dismay, or pleasure (as in GLORY BE!)
In a state of great happiness, satisfaction or triumph

It quickly becomes clear why translations and the art of translating the prayers and Scriptures of the Church is not only so difficult, but time-consuming. So, what does the Church mean when we say, “Glory?” In reading some of the citations, (I encourage you to look it up and read the different references) no single definition is sufficient.

But you quickly notice something curious. It seems the glory of the Lord is, in addition to the words I found in the dictionary, something physical.

Then Moses said, "This is the thing which the LORD commanded you to do, and the glory of the LORD will appear to you." Leviticus 9.6 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. Leviticus 9.23-24 Now the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. Numbers 14.10

So the glory of the Lord is something that can be physically experienced, so as to fill the temple, cover a mountain, and surround a people. This expression of Glory is not used in association with men, while the other uses (fame, admiration, etc) are used. This should reveal something to our hearts. What seems to express itself in the honor and admiration of human beings has it’s root in the fullness of God.

It helps us remember that we are created in the image, according to the likeness of God. What God IS by nature, we show as a reflection. SO….when we honor a brother for a great accomplishment, we are honoring the “glory” of God being lived out in our brother. This reality has all sorts of corollaries in Holy Icons (the halo is a reflection of the glory of God in the life of the saint) and the veneration of the Saints.

The key is to REMEMBER the root source of that glory. To think any amount of glory has its source in us is to deny our true human nature as God’s children and image.

This post is written for the 40 Days of Blogging Challenge sponsored by the Preachers Institute. You may find other blogs participating in this challenge. I hope you enjoy this year’s Advent journey.

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